The search continues

Hello fellow travelers!

I am on the search for the next big phase — graduate school. Deciding not to attend American University last fall was a difficult one to say the least, but that does not mean the higher education door has closed. The next month or two are booked with travel plans to visit schools and areas to determine where I should spend the next leg of my journey.

My boyfriend and I will be traveling to New York City, Chicago, Pittsburgh and New Orleans (OK, this one isn’t for grad school but we can travel for fun too, right?). These will all be weekend trips, so we’re trying to determine the must-sees, must-seize and must-eats. This is where all you lovely people come in, as Pinterest, Buzzfeed and Yelp only help so much.

If you’re a graduate student, local or just a nomad with a great experience, leave a comment or send an email and let me know the greatest steps to make. I’ll be leaving a list of the greatest stops we’ve made so far and continue as we go, so follow along if you plan on checking out these cities anytime soon.

Chat soon!

 

[Guest Blog] Open Letter to NSU Housing

Welcome to my first guest blog! The below letter was written by Kadeem Hall, a student leader at Nova Southeastern University. While fulfilling his requirements as a summer housing assistant to decorate boards in the hallways of the dorms, he decided to use his position to advocate for a largely devastating social issue. He decorated a board to say “Black Lives Matter,” with corresponding words and images that depict the importance of the movement. Very quickly after, the school told him to take the decorations down because they are not relatable to the students present. This is absolutely appalling.

 

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Courtesy of Kadeem Hall

 

Black lives DO matter. Black people comprise nearly half of the total incarceration rate in the U.S. and are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of white people. There are multiple cases of cops killing innocent black people–in fact, just in the past week there were two new cases of this. [side note: I highly recommend watching “13th” on Netflix for a more thorough grasp of this terrible phenomena]

When it comes to raising awareness on issues such as this, it is up to college students. For years, children are taught they have the power to change the world with a single voice. They are praised for standing up for those who can’t. But when the matter arises in an educational institution, it refuses to take a stance on important matters because it is too controversial and the school can only thrive off external funds from donors who are generally conservative.

I highly suggest reading Kadeem’s letter below. Share it with your peers and comment below to make it known that we cannot and will not stand for racial injustice.

Hello all.

Thank you. For your time, your concern, and your efforts. You’re here for a reason and whatever that reason, I am thankful. I want for you to take a peek into my story and use it to empower yourself and all things positive.

June 19th, 2017

In so many ways, I’ve prided myself on you. That’s MY school. But I see now where it is necessary to have a serious talk with you. This in no way is a critique to claim that you have no strengths because you are a mighty institution. I’ve grown here. Learned here. I’ve been on TV here. I’ve become a next level leader here. I’ve impressed my family here. Made the world of connections here. I’m your BSU President, Writing Fellow, President’s 64 Member, Razor’s Edge Leadership Scholar, and Summer Housing Assistant. I literally, like, love you. However, my problem is not how you provide any opportunities for me, but how you stand by me and support me when I need you.

Now, no surprise here, I’ve chosen to spend my second consecutive summer with you. Like I told you, I literally, like, love you. As a part of me being here, you required me to decorate seven boards with information relevant to young newcomers. Two were decorated with information about our campus and local businesses, one had information about myself, 3 others were left with what the Winter RA’s created, and one had the message “Black Lives Matter” displayed across it. Fifteen days after it was finished, and 12 days after its due date, you called me into the housing office and among other concerns, stated that this is not what was asked of me.

You told me that this is not what NSU wants to offer younger campers. That it is not relevant to the information I was asked to display, or to their experience here. You told me that for these campers, we are not trying to display what is relevant in the world, just information.

How frightening it is that these statements are considered a norm here and allowable.

How is it that at a University campus, we would encourage anything but the publicizing of such ideas and information? We pride ourselves on having a minority majority, but NSU you need to realize that having us here isn’t enough. Why is it noteworthy to have a minority majority population? Because of the systematic and social disadvantages that minorities face within this country. You show that you want to provide an opportunity for all who are able, regardless of background. Now, I applaud your focus on getting us here, but. You must ensure that we are not just another tool for enrollment. You must support us. You must dedicate resources to us. You must focus on us. Please make sure that you don’t just put us in your brochures and ignore our realities.

You tell me that I am a stronger employee and have always been seen as one, but that a message that confronts a serious problem that faces minorities, need be removed. When it is time to discuss students who lead boldly and bring a good name to hard work at NSU, I am honored that I am part of the conversation. But when I portray the message that reinforces the importance of Black Lives, it is seen as outside of the scope of what was asked. I am here to push that idea back into the dangerous corner that it escaped from. At this University, attention to the issues that put minorities in any questionable position should be yelled. Boldly. Students should be congratulated for this message being displayed.

As you applaud me for the skill that I offer and thank me for the benefits that those skills bring you, you tear me down when I respect the history and love that is myself. Less than one full month after being named Undergraduate Student President of The Year, the very message that the organization that I lead promotes was seen as unrelated to campers, resulting in its need to be taken down. It makes me question if you appreciate me and my voice, or what it does for you and your reputation. I want NSU to define policy and have a firm stance on what it is we will portray and allow. Students are assigned floors as Residential Assistants and Summer Housing Assistants. It should be expected that they express ideas, history, and national movements, especially ones that relate to minority issues. It would be odd if they didn’t.

At the end of the day, I wanted to feel understood. I will continue to fight. We need a Minority Office. BSU will continue to grow. I want NSU to begin to appreciate this message in all respects because black lives will always matter. Housing, I truly feel like a piece of me came down with my board. I saw myself as a vital piece to my team and to the campers that I could impact while here, so I took my board down while holding onto the promise that it could be reposted in the fall. NSU benchmarks against seven Universities, Emory, Temple, and Vanderbilt University being three of those. Each of these three have public structures (Like walls in the middle of a field that solely say “white people. do something.”) or statements that support Black Lives Matter purposes and initiatives. The University of Vermont, Illinois State University, and Northwestern University all have, at some point, erected a Black Lives Matter flag on their main campuses. I hold a pride higher than no other to be a Shark. So, NSU, I patiently wait on the day in which we drop this idea of conservatism in a comfortable corner, and begin embracing fighting for what’s right, and challenging systematic and social norms that oppress the majority of your population.

– Fins Up, Kadeem Hall.

See his post on Medium. Have any suggestions or comments? Post ’em below. 

The truth about the GOP ballfield attack

The shooting that took place yesterday morning in Alexandria is deeply saddening. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise is in critical condition and three others were injured when a shooter decided to attack a friendly charity baseball game practice between Republicans. No matter one’s political beliefs, this act of violence was clearly wrong, and while nobody is disputing that fact, there is much disparity in the reasoning. Former Congressman Bob Livingston (R-Louisiana) and many other GOP members, for instance, believe that this attack was caused by anti-Trump rhetoric stirring up the man’s emotional stability. The truth is, however, that the attack was caused by lack of gun control.

Generally, conservatives push for the right to bear arms. Many claim that in order to protect themselves from criminals with weapons, they too, must carry. When everyone has the right to own a gun, however, situations like yesterday occur. The people who needed protecting were not protected, and the person who caused the turmoil had access to a gun.

As NPR reported, the shooter voiced his politics frequently, but never in a demeaning, obnoxious or threatening way. On the other hand, he has multiple records that indicate that the man should not have been able to own a weapon. He was arrested for allegedly punching a woman and choking an individual, as well as firing a shotgun in 2006 and was referred to police after shooting his hunting rifle unsafely.

Clearly, the man’s political beliefs and anti-Trump rhetoric are not to blame for what happened. Trump did not become President until this year, and the shooter’s dangerous tendencies began in 2006, if not earlier. If the man had been referred to a psychologist and/or was mandated for further gun training as a result of his previous incidents, there is a good chance that the incident yesterday would not have happened.

Do not let the individual incident be a distraction from the overall problem. Gun control needs thorough addressing and every crime committed is just one more reason for doing so.

The difference between journalism and fake news

Alright people, it is time to get to the bottom of this “fake news” pandemic. While everyone is throwing the term around like a boiling hot potato, nobody seems to understand what fake news truly is. Sure, it is easy to deduce that, obviously, someone is lying in his or her reporting and misconstruing information to create a set of “alternative facts.” What often goes unrealized, however, is that fake news is not journalism, and true journalists do not produce alternative facts.

The constant bashing of well-represented and esteemed media outlets needs to stop. Dubbing media outlets like CNN and the New York Times as fake is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. Companies such as these are known for pushing the envelope and searching for stories that matter and that people should be aware of. The only reason this inaccurate term came to life is because of individuals not wanting the public to realize the truth about what is happening behind closed doors. Essentially, the whole purpose for its birth was to make people doubt any and all information from highly-credited sources. To those throwing the fake news manifesto at these outlets, it is a matter of silencing organizations on the truth, not slaying corruption.

Now, don’t be fooled, there ARE fake news outlets out there. Companies like Breitbart, American News, Disclose TV, and World Truth TV purposely create content meant to deceive people into believing a certain point of view. They don’t write well-rounded and balanced arguments and do not display the very morale that journalism was founded upon.

For those who may not realize it, journalism was created to provide a well-established, balanced and honest voice for the masses. It is founded on the belief that any information that serves the common interest of the majority of people deserves to be shared. After all, we have Freedom of the Press; we have the freedom to investigate, to learn, to listen and to share the truth and nothing but the truth to all people with standards of ethical reasoning. Any outlet or individual who publishes content that is not fact-checked, balanced and as accurate as possible is not a true journalism organization or a journalist.

There is no room for deception in the truth and that is no alternative fact.

Life of a Student Journalist

Write.
Take a sip of coffee.
Interview.
Another sip of coffee.
Write a hell of a lot more.
Time for a hell of a lot more coffee.

Writing is no joke, especially when you want to thoroughly report on a story. It takes more patience than you could imagine, and the backspace and undo keys become your best friend (besides that that very durable coffee mug).

Being a student and a journalist is definitely not for those who tire quickly and cannot sit for long periods of time. The majority of my day is spent right here, staring at my computer screen, completing class discussions and coming up with questions for my next interview. It’s something that’s so fascinatingly tiring, yet simultaneously exhilarating, and surprisingly, is different every single day.

When your passion becomes your life, there is no amount of hard work that becomes too hard of work because every second of it is a challenge you physically, mentally, and emotionally can’t wait to overcome.

This is my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.